Copyright (c) 2008 Christian Fea
First of all, I realize that anything with “viral” in the name doesn’t conjure up images of something you want close by, but there is a new type of Internet marketing known as “viral marketing” is worth investigating. Despite its unflattering appellation, it is an effective Internet collaboration marketing tool, and one that is important to understand if you want to expand your business.
What is Viral Marketing?
Viral marketing is a strategy that encourages your business to carry a marketing message via e-mail, and to partner with other businesses, which will attach your marketing message to their emails. This is ultimately another form of collaborative marketing for your company, but one that lends credibility because your message is passed on through other companies. The name viral marketing was chosen to indicate the way a virus can rapidly multiply within a cell, and ultimately taking over the cell, bending the cell to the whims of the virus. This aggressive expansion and growth is the target of a viral marketing platform.
The strategy ultimately uses a network of relationships that you have developed, as well as the relationships and resources of the companies with whom you are collaborating, which are attaching your message to their emails. This can work both for your own business, as well as a collaborative marketing partnership with other companies.
You can include a marketing message in the emails that your company sends to its clients and customers, and you can contract to have your marketing message sent by other companies, via their emails. By creating collaborative relationships with secondary companies to pass along your email advertisement, you will be able to reach out to a whole new client base that, perhaps otherwise, you would not have been able to target.
This may sound a little confusing at first: am I sending marketing messages along with my companies emails, or are other companies sending my advertisement along with their emails? The answer is either, or bothboth are good ways to get a marketing message broadcasted. Using an outside company often involves a fee, but may be a worthwhile investment due to the sheer volume of people you’ll be able to reach, as well as the range of customers you’ll be able to target, because it differs from your typical client base.
A Few Examples
You have undoubtedly been exposed to viral marketing, yet have not realized it or registered the fact. One of the most classic examples of viral marketing is used by the free email website, Hotmail.com. If I have a hotmail account, automatically attached to each email message I send is an accompanying by a message from Hotmail.com, encouraging the recipient to sign up for an account. In this way, Hotmail is advertising its own business through the emails that each of its existing clients sends.
Another clear example is that of e-greeting cards. Each greeting card that is sent carries the company’s marketing message, encouraging the recipient to send a card using this service. If I receive an electronic greeting card from a friend, I will automatically be prompted to send a card using the site from which I’ve just received mail.
Viral marketing is a newer Internet marketing strategy that was more recently developed and is quickly becoming popular. It is a strategic way to advertise your business and services, as well as to partner with other companies to help you form a broader collaborative marketing platform.
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